Commentary Archive

What to Expect: Butler

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After a week hiatus, Indiana returns to the floor following a week of final exams for a meeting with No. 23 Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The game will tip at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1:

Whether you’re a fan of the event or not, the Crossroads Classic returns for a fourth year on Saturday and will continue for the foreseeable future. Billed as a showcase of the state’s top four programs, Indiana, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame come together each year for a day in late December in the state’s capital.

It’s an event that is heavily reliant on Indiana fans to sell tickets and the program’s long term involvement in such an arrangement raises some questions. Chief among them is the fact that Indiana’s participation in the Crossroads Classic forced the program to miss out on the CBS Sports Classic, which was formed with the goal of bringing together the four programs with the most national championships. With Indiana out, the event moved on to Ohio State and now the Buckeyes, North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA will play a national showcase on CBS this weekend while Indiana takes a backseat on Fox Sports 1.

Nonetheless, the Crossroads Classic moves on as an event that feels stale, offers very little in terms of national buzz and puts the Hoosiers in a no-win situation. Win, like the program did in year one of the event over Notre Dame, and it’s ho hum. Lose, like the program has the last two years to Butler and Notre Dame, and it’s, “what’s wrong with Indiana?”

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What to Expect: Grand Canyon

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Following its first game away from Assembly Hall this season — a 94-74 loss to Louisville at Madison Square Garden — Indiana returns home on Saturday night for a meeting with Grand Canyon University.

It’s the first ever meeting between the two schools and it will be broadcast at 5 p.m. ET on BTN with Steve Physioc and Jon Crispin on the call:

Guarantee games have become a staple in college basketball, but so far such matchups have not been particularly kind to Big Ten teams this year. A guarantee game, for those unfamiliar with the term, is one program paying another to come play in its gym without a return game. Seven of Indiana’s first nine contests have been guarantee games and the Hoosiers dropped one of them to Eastern Washington back on Nov. 24. After Grand Canyon, the Hoosiers have just one more guarantee game on the schedule (Dec. 22 vs. the University of New Orleans.)

But as we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, many of these games are no sure thing despite the fact that their main purpose is to schedule a win. Purdue lost at home to North Florida. Michigan lost at home to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Eastern Michigan. And most recently, Nebraska fell at home to Incarnate Word.

Ultimately, each of these teams will have the chance to play in the NCAA tournament if business is taken care of inside of Big Ten play. But as Indiana enters its game with Grand Canyon, it’s a game the Hoosiers must avoid any letdown in with tough contests with Butler and Georgetown still looming before conference play tips on New Year’s Eve.

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What to Expect: Louisville

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Indiana’s first test away from Assembly Hall is a significant one as the Hoosiers face No. 4 Louisville on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York in the Jimmy V Classic.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET with Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale and Andy Katz on the call:

Indiana and Louisville, two schools separated by just over 100 miles, will play on Tuesday for the first time since February of 2003 and it took a trip to the “World’s Most Famous Arena” and a prime-time slot to bring the two programs together.

Both Tom Crean and Rick Pitino have talked about starting a series for several years, but nothing has ever materialized despite support in both fanbases to see the programs, who have combined for eight national championships, play. But even if an annual series fails to start up in the coming years, Tuesday’s game is one that is good for the sport of college basketball and also good for this particular Indiana team. The Hoosiers have yet to be tested away from Bloomington and facing one of the country’s elite teams on the grandest stage should give Crean a better grasp of where this team stands with the start of Big Ten play now less than four weeks away.

Intrigue was added to the game earlier this year when former Indiana assistant coach Kenny Johnson, who was a key figure in the recruitments of Robert Johnson, Troy Williams and others, left Bloomington for a hefty pay raise to work for Pitino at Louisville. While Johnson was nothing but complimentary of Indiana in his comments shortly after arriving in Louisville, you can bet the competitor inside of him as well as the competitor inside of both Crean and IU’s players have been looking forward to this game.

For the first time this season, Indiana is a decisive underdog going into a game. How will the Hoosiers handle the stage and the pressure defense of Louisville? We’ll find out in short order.

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What to Expect: Savannah State

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Indiana will look to move to 7-1 on Saturday night as the Hoosiers welcome Savannah State to Assembly Hall. It’s the third all-time meeting between the two programs.

The game will tip at 7:30 on BTN with Chris Denari and Dan Bonner on the call:

There’s little intrigue as Indiana returns to action this weekend following Tuesday’s win over Pittsburgh and that’s because Savannah State is another overmatched opponent in a guarantee game with the Hoosiers. The Tigers last came to Bloomington in November of 2011, Cody Zeller’s freshman season, and left with a 29-point loss.

This year’s Savannah State club actually has wins over Winthrop and Cleveland State (both at home) to its name to go along with a complete drubbing at Louisville and lopsided losses at Eastern Kentucky, Marshall and Winthrop. Yes, it’s already played Winthrop twice. IU fans have circled games with Louisville, Butler and Georgetown on this month’s schedule, but the Hoosiers first must get past this contest before the schedule ramps up on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic.

PERSONNEL

The Tigers come to Bloomington with just one player, senior guard Terel Hall (pictured), averaging in double figures. Hall’s 10.6 points per game lead the program as does his effective field goal percentage (59.1). Against Division I opponents, the 6-foot-1 guard is making 59 percent of his 2s and is doing a solid job of getting to the foul line (68.2 free throw rate).

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: December 5

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

TroutyB on the premium forum writes: Given their production lately, could you see either Collin Hartman or Emmitt Holt in the starting lineup at some point this year? If so, who comes out?

I could see it with Holt, but I’m not sure on Hartman because I feel like he’s settling into a role and I’m not sure how a move into the starting lineup would disrupt that. Holt certainly looked the part against Pittsburgh, but he’s also lacking experience and it was just one game. Will he be able to string together production with consistency? If he’s not able to do so, he’s in the same boat as Hanner Mosquera-Perea who I assume he would supplant in the starting lineup if a change were to occur. I think Holt is definitely going to be a positive for this team, but I also caution against expecting too much from him after his strong play against Pittsburgh.

As for Hartman, I think so far he’s epitomized what Tom Crean has talked about in the past when he references having depth because IU is not experiencing a drop off when he enters the game. If he’s excelling in his current role, do you make a change when guys like Troy Williams and Robert Johnson are also playing well? I don’t believe so. I like Hartman as a guy who can come in off the bench and provide energy, rebound, defend and drop in a perimeter shot when he’s open. — Alex Bozich

@TheLucasCorley on Twitter writes: If IU wins the big games but loses against weaker opponents, how does that look to selection committee at end of season?

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What to Expect: Pittsburgh

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After a shaky 87-79 win on Friday night against UNC Greensboro, Indiana returns to Assembly Hall for its seventh regular season game opposite Pittsburgh in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It’s the first meeting between the two programs since Dec. 8, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.

The game will tip at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen and LaPhonso Ellis on the call:

Indiana’s home-only November schedule is complete and whether the Hoosiers are ready for it, December is here with several significant challenges. First up is Pittsburgh, which is coming off a 2-1 trip to the Maui Invitational, which included wins over Chaminade and Kansas State and a loss to San Diego State.

The Panthers have been without guard Cameron Wright all season due to a foot injury and also lost Durand Johnson to a season-long suspension. Wright is due back soon, but without that duo, Jamie Dixon is playing a young rotation (312th nationally in experience, per KenPom) that will be entering its first true road environment.

PERSONNEL

Pitt comes to Assembly Hall with an efficient offense through its first six games, but its one that operates deliberately and will look to grind things out in a half court slugfest. The Panthers are averaging just 69.8 points per game and have just two scorers averaging in double figures in Michael Young and James Robinson.

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What to Expect: UNC Greensboro

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After nearly a four-day break between games, Indiana resumes its 2014-2015 season tonight at Assembly Hall with UNC Greensboro, a member of the Southern Conference (SoCon).

The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network at 9 p.m. ET with Josh Lewin and Stephen Bardo on the call.

Indiana (4-1) was humbled on Monday evening when Eastern Washington came into Bloomington and upset the Hoosiers, 88-86, ending Indiana’s 43-game non conference winning streak in Assembly Hall.

Tonight, the Hoosiers will have their first chance to rebound from the loss with a game against the UNC Greensboro Spartans, who come into Bloomington with a 1-4 record and a lowly No. 302 rank on KenPom.

PERSONNEL

The Spartans have heavily relied on their starters through their first five games this season as bench players have played a total of just 22.9 percent of total minutes. Only 25 other teams in the country have had their bench players play fewer minutes.

That starting lineup consists of three sophomores, one junior and one senior — all of whom are at least averaging 65 percent of UNC Greensboro’s minutes this season.

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